Indian National Congress (INC) is India’s grand old political party and even after 132-years is still going strong amidst winds of change and political crisis. Congress is remembered as a party which fought for India’s independence and always followed Gandhiji’s ideals and independent India’s first Prime Minister was Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and now Rahul Gandhi on December 16, 2017, will formally take charge as Congress’ new president taking over from his mother Sonia Gandhi.
How will history judge Sonia Gandhi? Sonia Gandhi would be the first one to admit that she was not a natural politician and became involved in politics because of circumstances. First, she was introduced as all-powerful India’s former PM Indira Gandhi’s daughter-in-law and then wife of Rajiv Gandhi and was happy to stay in the background and had no interest in politics or polity of the Indian system. The events, especially after the untimely death of her husband Rajiv Gandhi in an political assassination, brought the focus on Sonia Gandhi and the top leadership insisted on Mrs Gandhi playing more of an active role and venturing into the India’s electoral system and after a lot of pressure Sonia finally relented and became the party president in 1998.
The start of her presidency was difficult and she faced many obstacles and questions were raised over her temperament, ability to lead such a big and diverse party. After losing the 1998 & 1999 general elections, it was time for honest introspection and Sonia gave it all and started taking the job seriously and became more confident and emerged as a leader. In the summer of 2004, Sonia pulled the ultimate coup and United Progressive Alliance (UPA) under her leadership beat the odds and Congress-led coalition came to power. As the time came who will become the prime minister Sonia Gandhi being the politician that she has proposed the name of Dr Manmohan Singh and that decision created an unrest and many Congress workers and cadres wanted Mrs Gandhi to lead the charge.
Sonia Gandhi’s relationship with opposition has been rather difficult and not a cordial one as BJP has time and again raised question over her Italian roots, her nationalism, her ability to lead India and Sonia has like a true soldier faced all the problems and taken them head on and was solely responsible for Congress completing 10 years at the centre.
India is changing and Sonia over the last 4-5 years has taken a backseat and also with her health deteriorating her participation in the party affairs has been quite limited one. After chairing and managing Congress for the past 19 years’ time has come for new blood to take over and Sonia’s legacy will be how she stepped up to the plate from reluctant politician to a politician who rejuvenated, united Congress and always fought for people’s rights and proved that her heart bleeds for India and is a true patriot.